WAITROSE appears to be the favourite to operate a food store which is expected to be built as part of the Handy Cross Hub project.

Wycombe District Council has so far remained tight-lipped about which retailer would move into the store earmarked for Handy Cross.

But designs for a building clearly emblazoned with the distinctive green Waitrose sign were submitted as part of the council’s outline planning application for a food store and car-park on the site.

Waitrose previously told the Free Press it was “extremely keen” to open a supermarket in High Wycombe.

It already has stores in neighbouring Beaconsfield, Marlow, Gerrards Cross, Amersham, Chesham and Maidenhead.

Meanwhile, preparation work for the new Wycombe Sports Centre is continuing – with construction expected to begin in March.

WDC submitted a planning application for the detailed designs of phase two of the Handy Cross project – which includes the above mentioned food store and a new coachway park and ride – before Christmas.

The authority is busy negotiating with its preferred construction contractor about build and price, while a number of leisure operators have submitted bids to take over the running of the new sports centre.

The new synthetic pitch at John Hampden Grammar School is now in full use. It replaces the existing flood-lit astro-turf at Handy Cross.

A substantial electricity cable has been diverted, with further enabling work involving the diversion of a large water main and the laying of fibre optic cables along the A404 will also need to be carried out.

The council said 170 new trees will be planted along with the formation of a new ’green amenity and water space’ as part of the landscaping plan.

Cllr Richard Scott, WDC Leader, said: “The efficient progress of the enabling works marks another milestone in our plans to transform the district’s sports and leisure offer.

“We've always been determined that the new Wycombe Sport and Leisure Centre will be a flagship facility and a most significant improvement on the existing building.

“The new centre will provide enhanced facilities and will give residents an Olympic legacy of which to be proud."